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Instagram post by @octohawk Katie

At first glance, this may look like a pretty picture, but if you look more closely it tells a different story. Periphytic algae from heightened nutrient levels and lowered groundwater flows has smothered and killed all of the native vegetation in this spring, which is a big deal on more than an aesthetic level. This has been happening in all of our Florida springs, as we use more and more groundwater and contaminate what's left. I don't know anyone who doesn't want clean, clear springs, but wanting something and being willing to change your own habits to help achieve it are two different things.
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I got in a pretty heated debate yesterday (shocker) about ways to help our springs. The topic was primarily bottling Florida spring water, which I won't go into here, but during this debate it was repeatedly brought to my attention that (despite having worked for an environmental agency for 8.5 years, the last 5 of which were specifically in water quality monitoring) I know nothing and need to educate myself. So I did! I visited as many websites as I could about what we can do to help our springs, and while I saw a lot of general information about watering and fertilizing lawns less, NOT ONE talked about the impacts of animal agriculture. Considering the astounding water footprint and resultant water contamination associated with it, it seems like a no-brainer, and yet it's absent from the conversation. Hell, you can even buy BBQ right in the park at Manatee Springs, one of the most ecologically dead springs I've ever visited. Regardless of our own biases when it comes to the topic of diet preferences, it's undeniable that meat is many times worse for the environment than a plant-based diet.
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(continued in comments)

24 Comments

  • 23w ago octohawk octohawk

    I'm far from perfect (again, shocker), but I've been trying to challenge myself more and more lately to live a life more congruent with my environmental ethics & love of Florida waters. I feel good about the changes I've been making and am ALWAYS finding more areas for improvement. We can't always sit around waiting for the government to fix our water (especially not now), nor can they force us to change our personal habits anyway, so we owe it to our beloved state to be responsible for our own negative impacts to it. Reducing meat intake is one very simple way to address those impacts, and one that should absolutely be part of the conversation and encouraged along with all the others suggested individual actions.

  • 23w ago amanda.mims amanda.mims

    πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

  • 23w ago ianwilsonn ianwilsonn

    Thanks for this. I've been working more and more towards an entirely meatless diet and it's insights like yours that make the difference. I even visited manatee springs recently and noticed the algae but had no idea how dead it really was. Such a shame.

  • 23w ago roseavenel roseavenel

    πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ‘Œ

  • 23w ago hon3ybaked hon3ybaked

    Keep up the good fight! You have an army of like minded humans behind you in full support!

  • 23w ago amandakayropp amandakayropp

    πŸ™ŒπŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ’―πŸ’™

  • 23w ago octohawk octohawk

    @ianwilsonn thanks so much for that comment!

  • 23w ago tahenley tahenley

    I imagine it was the same kind of thing we were just discussing earlier. Consider yourself highly informed, and keep working on spreading the word (even if that means getting into heated debates, because you may just have inspired that person to go home and do some research as well, even though they may not admit to it). It's very inspiring!

  • 23w ago cocoandmilkweed cocoandmilkweed

    I love you.

  • 23w ago muddycreeeks muddycreeeks

    πŸ‘

  • 23w ago denadavis denadavis

    amen, sister. AMEN AMEN AMEN.

  • 23w ago deatonjones deatonjones

    You're going in and I love it. Keep the fire. Stay passionate.

  • 23w ago quinoa.reeves quinoa.reeves

    @cocoandmilkweed right?

  • 23w ago cocoandmilkweed cocoandmilkweed

    @quinoa.reeves πŸ₯‡

  • 23w ago a_lonewolf a_lonewolf

    I'm consciously making more meatless choices. Yet another reason to do it!

  • 23w ago wildlifemitch wildlifemitch

    I hadn't considered this specific impact much before, but it does encourage my efforts to eat more and more meat that comes from sustainable hunting and fishing.

  • 23w ago alanw4442 alanw4442

    About that BBQ you mentioned...is it Manatee?

  • 23w ago outdoorfl.creations outdoorfl.creations

    My brother and I have maintained plant based diets since birth. Not once consciously ingesting animal products. In my time as a vegetarian I have witnessed and influenced many people to make the switch in diet but only after a spark of curiosity was ignited. In my experience I would get the best results by physically sharing what I was eating with people and answering their questions. After a short time they too would desire to change so it is possible. It's nice to see you are making transitions and encouraging others to do so as well. Less meat the better if you ask us. ✌️@octohawk

  • 23w ago octohawk octohawk

    @outdoorfl.creations I eat almost entirely plant-based, and have for a while, but still sometimes end up eating things that don't align with my ethics which is what I'm trying to be more aware of. My eating habits have changed so much over the years, from being a vegan in high school, to hunting in Colorado in college, which led me back to eating other types of meat, and then back to being vegetarian, and then eating some meats again and justifying it because it wasn't very often, but then still feeling bad about it and cutting it out. I've been all over the place, so just trying to be more cognizant and hold myself more accountable these days, because I can always do better.

  • 23w ago amanda.mims amanda.mims

    @alanw4442 They do have a "manatee dog" on the menu 😢

  • 23w ago carriebythesea carriebythesea

    Well said, lovely! Love that this conversation is happening. So many amazing photogs taking gorgeous pics in Florida's springs and much like those websites you visited, little or no action or mention of conservation or protection (what I call "the cow in he spring). We all owe it to give back to these places that give us so much...thank you and thanks @amanda.mims / @flsprings! πŸ’™πŸ’¦πŸ’™πŸŒŽ

  • 23w ago amanda.mims amanda.mims

    @carriebythesea Thank you! As someone who doesn't actually enjoy debating this stuff on the Internet with strangers it can be hard to stay motivated to keep going but these things are just too important to ever shut up about. I'm so grateful for people like you and @octohawk and @mermaidofthesprings and everyone else who speaks up and keeps the conversation and information flowing πŸ™

  • 22w ago dreamyfloridian dreamyfloridian

    Well said

  • 22w ago carriebythesea carriebythesea

    @amanda.mims you did an amazing job--calm, well informed and well spoken. Exactly what Mother Earth needs more of on her team! πŸ’ͺπŸ»πŸ’™πŸŒŽ

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